Contract research organizations (CROs) manage thousands of patients every year. The success of clinical trials and studies, whether in Phase I, II, III, or IV depends heavily on trial participants being willing and engaged for the entire duration of the study.

Frequently, CROs are hindered by participant rates, retention, and satisfaction. Plus, handing out cash reimbursements requires heavy administrative oversight and is difficult to secure, track, and measure. Cheques also require cumbersome processes, approvals and signatures, with participant reimbursements in some cases taking longer than a month to fulfill.

To make things even more challenging, you are now required by law (if you're in the US, or soon to be in the UK) to increase transparency about where health care money is spent.

In Canada, that shift is happening a lot more gradually, but pharmaceutical companies are already trying to stay ahead of the regulatory curve by publishing their own reports on payments to doctors, health care organizations, and patients.

Although reimbursements to trial subjects is not under any immediate scrutiny, the potential for transparency and accountability in this payment space is easily achievable using MasterCard and Visa prepaid cards.

Prepaid is more than just an alternative to cheques, cash, or EFT transfers: it is a flexible, secure, and trackable payment solution for high-touch disbursement programs.

Plus, once an organization goes live with a prepaid card program, payments can be disbursed in a number of different ways: instantly on the spot, via traditional snail mail, or even through email using virtual Visa and MasterCard card.

Virtual prepaid cards have the same functionality as plastic cards, except they are emailed to cardholders, and can be used to purchase items online or over the phone. Learn more about virtual cards here.

Most importantly, participants love receiving prepaid cards because they can be used anywhere in the world, online, or over the phone, so participants can purchase almost anything they want. Not surprisingly, the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation has stated that compensation is "the top factor that motivates study volunteers to continue to participate" in a trial.

For an industry that is held to high ethical and regulatory standards, prepaid is the logical choice. Karen Hutberg, a New York Hospital Queens research administrator, praised the use of prepaid by her organizations, boasting that it saved her finance and accounting departments about a half a day's work each week. Not to mention the financial impact; a cheque on average costs anywhere between $17-$25 to fulfill.

If you're anything like our clients and make large volume payments to thousands of participants, perhaps it is time to consider prepaid. Whether your concerns are patient recruitment, reducing administrative and operational costs, or increasing transparency in your payments, prepaid is the solution.

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